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P3 Student Design Competition

Learn About P3 Program

EPA’s P3 Program
P3 stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Through this EPA program, teams of college students can benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet by designing environmental solutions that move us toward a sustainable future. Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than 4,000 students from 234 institutions across all 50 states and Puerto Rico have been awarded 726 grants totaling more than $15.5 million (as of February 2018).

Learn more about P3 through students interacting in the experience (video). Exit

Phases of the P3 Program
The P3 Program consists of two distinct, yet related phases. Phase I is a competition for one-year grants of up to $15,000 to test, research, and develop innovative scientific projects or engineering designs that promote development, and often serves as a proof of concept for research ideas. The final report for Phase I projects serves not only as a report on Phase I findings, but also as a Phase II proposal (should teams choose to apply).

Phase II awards are only open to the interdisciplinary student teams that received a Phase I grant the previous year. These grants fundup to $75,000 to further the development and demonstration of the projects/designs created in Phase I. In both phases, recipients use the money to research and develop their projects during the academic year.

National Sustainable Design Expo
National Sustainable Design Expo (NSDE) is an annual event that takes place in the Spring and features the P3 teams’ designs developed with Phase I funding. The event serves not only to showcase the teams’ innovative ideas and solutions to environmental challenges, but it also creates professional collaboration opportunities by connecting these emerging scientists and engineers with experts from other EPA programs, government agencies, and advanced tech companies. Additional event benefits include public education and participation, research review, and scientific networking opportunities.

Research Areas and Topics
EPA considers projects that address challenges from a wide range of categories in order to support and align with the Agency’s goals and objectives. P3's broad research areas include:

  1. Improve Air Quality
  2. Provide for Clean and Safe Water
  3. Prevent Contamination of Land
  4. Ensure Safety of Chemicals in the Marketplace

Please consult the latest P3 Solicitation for additional details regarding research areas.

Eligibility
Public and private institutions of higher education (limited to degree-granting institutions of higher education) located in the U.S. (includes eligible institutions of higher education located in U.S. territories and possessions) are eligible to apply or a P3 grant to support teams of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Collaboration and partnerships with colleges and universities outside the United States are permitted (and up to 40% of the grant can be contracted to an international partner), but only U.S. institutions are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program. Please see the latest P3 Solicitation for details.

How to Apply
The P3 Request for Applications (RFA) opens in the Fall and grants are typically awarded for the following Fall, allowing the recipients to conduct their research during the academic year. Learn more on how to apply for a P3 grant.

Application Review Process
The P3 grant competition process includes two in-depth reviews of submitted applications. The first is an external peer review panel that reviews the scientific merits and technical feasibility of the proposed projects. The second review is a relevancy review where EPA experts review the applications for the project/research’s relevance to EPA’s mission. Final funding decisions are made by EPA. Please see the latest P3 Solicitation for details.

P3 Program Contact
Angela Page (page.angelad@epa.gov)
National Center for Environmental Research
Office of Research and Development
Washington, DC
Telephone: 202-564-6462